Getting negative comments on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media is part of the process. It is ‘social’ after all and you have to take the good with the bad. However, you should have a Comment Policy that you can use to weed out most of the negativity.
Because of the social nature of Facebook (for example), you are socially obligated to respond or act on each and every comment. We know that it takes time to do this – but that is your responsibility as an administrator of the page. Your Comment Policy may provide you a mechanism to delete many negative comments. But depending on your type of business or group, you might want to avoid the impression that you censor all complaints or differences of opinion. Doing so can actually harm your reputation in the long run.
So where are those negative comments coming from?
First, it’s important to recognize the type of person who dishes out the negativity. This will change from page to page based on the type of message that you are trying to get across, but the authors of negative comments tend to fall into these groups:
- Dissatisfied customer – your product or service did not live up to their expectations.
- Disgruntled employees – it’s rare, but it happens. This is where a work issue overflows into social media.
- Trolls or bomb throwers – people who comment negativity on just about anything. Social media has created this class of person whose sole purpose in the community is to make inflammatory comments to get a reaction. For that reason they tend to make a negative comment or two, then move on. They drop the bomb, watch for the damage, then run!
- Opinionated opponents – be they rival companies, or just people whose life philosophies are different from yours, there are people who like to write comments to drive home their own opinion. They are slightly different from trolls, as they may not be negative all the time. However, unlike trolls, they may have a beef with just you, and will come back over and over and over again.
- Legal Boffins – these are the people who want to provide you legal advice about some aspect of what you are doing. They are almost always NOT legal professionals, but fall under the ‘a little knowledge is dangerous’ legal advisers.
- Sellers – people who post links to their sites, companies or products. They may be slightly related or even competitors. They also could be totally unrelated to your page.
Having this knowledge can help you decide how to deal with comments that are made on your page. Your Comment Policy may guide you for most of these and give you the opportunity to delete and roll forward. However, your comment policy should never stop you from dealing with the dissatisfied customer or disgruntled employee.
Dealing With a Disgruntled Employee
This issue can be seen in two ways. If the employee is still in your employ, then seek legal and human resources advice and work towards disciplinary action. Do that BEFORE you delete the comment, or if the comment is extremely damaging, make sure you take a screenshot and print out the comment so you have evidence.
If it is a past employee and they are commenting negatively about your company’s work practices — again take a screenshot and print out the material as evidence, and then delete the comment. You may or may not have grounds for legal action if the person continues to comment. If it becomes a flooding event (multiple posts over multiple days) then seek legal advice.
Dealing With the Dissatisfied Customer
This is probably the most important group on which to concentrate your effort. It is best to follow a simple, but effective three step process.
- Recognize the issue on your social media page as soon as possible. Like this:
“Thank you for your comment – and we are happy to work with you to solve the issue. Please send me a PM (private message) with your email or phone number, and we will be in contact with you”
Notice that this is visible to all your online customers and really shows them that you are committed to customer satisfaction. It does not place blame on you (or them) and shows that you are ready to solve the issue.
- Respond to the customer by email or a phone call as soon as possible. Follow your normal procedures for working with customer issues (which we hope is to assist, fix, replace or refund). Once the issue is solved you should thank the person for reaching out on social media and ask if they are happy with your service to make a further comment.
- While having the customer make a positive comment is wonderful, if they don’t, feel free to make a simple but positive comment to end the thread on your page. Like this:
“We are pleased to say that we were able to solve this issue with [customer].”
You CAN NOT do this unless the customer is completely satisfied. If you have one of those issues that is just not able to be solved, then don’t comment.
- After a period of time (we suggest a month), if there has been no further comment or action required from the issue, then delete the post. The exception to this is if the customer left an extremely positive and glowing comment about your customer service. That is always worth keeping online!